Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

January 28, 2010 08:22 ET

Minister Nicholson Announces Proposals to Strengthen the Young Offenders System

Measures to focus on violent and repeat young offenders

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 28, 2010) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced proposals to strengthen the way the young offenders system deals with violent and repeat young offenders.

"All too often, the system is powerless to keep violent or repeat young offenders in custody while awaiting trial, even when they pose a danger to society," said Minister Nicholson. "We need to simplify the rules to keep these offenders off the streets, when necessary."

Right now, a youth 14 or older may commit the most serious of crimes - murder, or aggravated sexual assault. But all too often the sentence given is much shorter than Canadians expect for these most serious crimes.

The Minister proposes to require the courts to consider adult sentences for those convicted of these most serious crimes, when the circumstances require it.

Provinces and territories will still have the discretion to set the age at which this requirement would apply. For example, Quebec sets its threshold at 16 and older. The Minister said his proposal would not change that threshold.

The Minister also noted he proposes to ensure that offenders under the age of 18 will not be placed in an adult facility, even when they receive an adult sentence. Offenders under 18 will serve their sentences in youth facilities only.

"Currently, in some cases a youth convicted of a serious violent offence can be released into the community anonymously. For example, parents may have no way of knowing that a convicted sex offender is in the area," said Minister Nicholson. "In such cases, we need to give the courts greater discretion to publish the names of young offenders, when the protection of society requires it."

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Justice
    Pamela Stephens
    Press Secretary
    Department of Justice Canada
    Media Relations